CASTLE ROCK, Colo. – There aren’t many players who make more eagles and birdies than Billy Mayfair. And there aren’t any tournaments that reward below-par shooters the way the International does.

Mayfair, who ranks second behind only Vijay Singh in birdies and eagles this season, rolled in a 70-foot putt for eagle on No. 17, then finished with a birdie to take the lead after the first round of one of the tour’s most unique events Friday.

“Any more on this tour, it’s better to be aggressive than anything else,” Mayfair said. “I’ll play the same way tomorrow – as aggressive as I can. But not stupid.”

Playing at high altitude (6,300 feet) and using the modified Stableford scoring system, two factors that reward big hitters and aggressiveness, Mayfair scored 15 points to lead Brandt Jobe by two, D.A. Points and Charles Howell by three and Geoff Ogilvy and Tim Petrovic by four. Under the Stableford scoring system, players get five points for eagles, two for birdies, nothing for pars and lose one point for bogeys.

Mayfair finished with five birdies to bring his total to 313 for the year. But it was his long roller on No. 17 – for his 13th eagle of the year – that went down as the shot of the day.

“I was just hoping to hit a good two-putt, make a birdie and go on,” he said. “It was just one of those 40-footers.”

Told a bit later that it was really more like 70 feet, Mayfair said, “Oh, OK, 70 feet.”

Howell, Jobe and Points also made eagle on No. 17, an uphill, 492-yard par-5 that more often than not determines the winner of this tournament. If things keep going the way they started, the final round could be fun: The 17th yielded 15 eagles in the opening round; last year, it produced 17 over all four rounds. “The guy who sits in this chair winning on Sunday is going to have to make a few eagles,” Howell said. “It’s the most important hole in this tournament.”

And also one of the most difficult on which to choose the right club. Howell used a 6-iron on his approach, but only after deducting 10 percent from his yardage to account for playing at 6,300 feet, then adding for the extreme uphill, then subtracting again for the wind, which was at his back.

Purtzer matches course record

BLAINE, Minn. – Tom Purtzer matched the tournament record with a 9-under 63 that included a hole-in-one, and he held a one-stroke lead over Bruce Lietzke on Friday at the 3M Championships at the TPC of the Twin Cities.

Champions Tour rookie Don Reese had a 66, one stroke in front of nine players, including defending champion Tom Kite.

The group at 69 included U.S. Senior Open champion Allen Doyle and leading money-winner Dana Quigley.

Purtzer, seeking his first Champions Tour victory in 17 months, had seven birdies in addition to the hole-one-in in the bogey-free round. On his next-to-last hole of the day, he aced the 205-yard 8th with a 4-iron. He had a 6-under 30 on his second nine.

Webster shoots 67 to share lead with Foster

GLENEAGLES, Scotland – Steve Webster shot a 5-under-par 67 Friday to share the lead with fellow Englishman Mark Foster halfway through the Johnnie Walker Championship.

Webster birdied five holes on his back nine and was at 6-under 138. Foster, the first-round leader, shot a 70 that featured an eagle on the 16th.

Gregory Bourdy, a 33-year-old Frenchman in his first full year on tour, bogeyed two of his final four holes to finish at 69 on a day when the greens dried after overnight rain. He and England’s Sam Little trail the co-leader by a stroke.

France’s Raphael Jacquelin had the day’s best round, a 66 despite a bogey-6 on the final hole. He is three strokes back.

Webster won the Italian Open in May and next week will be playing his first tournament in the United States – the PGA Championship.

“This is quite a tricky driving course, so it should stand me in good stead next week,” he said.

Gore shoots 59 in second round of Nationwide

OMAHA, Neb. – U.S. Open fan favorite Jason Gore shot a 12-under 59 Friday in the second round of the Nationwide Tour’s Cox Classic, becoming the third golfer to accomplish the feat on the developmental tour.

Gore started on the back nine and had five birdies for a 31 at the turn. After a bogey at the par-5 first, he went on to post two eagles and four birdies for a 28 on the second nine at the 6,966-yard, par-71 Champions Run course. He moved into third place, three shots behind leader Jon Mills, who was at 15 under after an 11-under 60.

“That was pretty cool, wasn’t it?” Gore said after making a 20-foot eagle putt on the final hole. “I didn’t even know, to tell you the truth. I forgot it was a par-71 this year. It was a good day to say the least.

Neumann retains lead, Sorenstam shoots 75

LODDEKOPINGE, Sweden – Liselotte Neumann shot a 2-over 74 Friday in rainy conditions to lead Gwladys Nocera by one stroke after the second round of the Scandinavian TPC. Tournament host Annika Sorenstam shot 75 to share sixth place on a windy day at the Barseback course.

Nocera, the only player to break par with a 69, finished one shot ahead of Minea Blomqvist (72), Suzann Pettersen (72) and Carin Koch (74), who tied for third. Sorenstam was tied for sixth with fellow Swede Helen Alfredsson.

“It was horrible, no fun at all,” Sorenstam said. “It was a really tough day – it was windy, rainy and cold. I just wanted to finish and have a cup of coffee in the clubhouse.”

The cut came at 10 over – the highest of the year on the Ladies European Tour (LET).

Neumann, who won the 1988 U.S. Open to become the first Swedish major winner, finished at 2-under 142. She birdied the first hole, but bogeyed the third when she missed a short putt, and did the same on the fifth hole.

The wind picked up and Neumann bogeyed the eighth, the first of five seaside holes.

“I hit my tee shot and the ball went out to the right and into the trees,” Neumann said. “It was really a battle out there today.” Neumann made another bogey on the 13th, then birdied three straight holes before finishing with a total of six bogeys.

The 39-year-old Neumann has played well recently, finishing tied for fifth in last week’s Women’s British Open at Royal Birkdale, the final major of the year.

Sorenstam had an up-and-down round that included four birdies, five bogeys and one double-bogey on the 16th.

“I don’t know what happened there,” Sorenstam said. “I played the 15th well and I felt good on the (16th) tee when I hit the ball, but when I looked up I saw the ball going into the trees.”

Last year, Sorenstam won the event, then known as the HP Open.


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